Catalan Review

WAR, TRAUMA AND THE FANTASTIC IN MERCÈ RODOREDA’S QUANTA, QUANTA GUERRA…

Catalan Review (2015), 29, (1), 61–78.

Abstract

Mercè Rodoreda’s bleak novel on war, Quanta, quanta guerra… (1980), has inspired multiple readings that have sought coherence in a work that resists logic. Contributing to the text’s rich indeterminacy is its confounding of gender norms and literary genres, which many studies have pinpointed but not linked to Rodoreda’s subject of war. An initial objective in this article is to explore the implications of these ambiguities for the dynamics of conflict. A second, related purpose is to analyze the presence in the work of the fantastic and the uncanny with regard to trauma, an aspect that scholars have not yet developed. I will argue that the fantastic endows unspeakable experiences with tangible shape and raises issues around remembering and disremembering traumatic pasts. The narrative not only abounds in elements derived from the fantastic and the uncanny, such as doubles and reflections, but also privileges important motifs of trauma present in Sigmund Freud’s works, with which Rodoreda was well-acquainted. In Quanta, quanta guerra the fantastic and the uncanny play a fundamental role in interrogating the disturbing reality of late 1970s Spain, a nation torn between the demand to leave behind its traumatic histories and the need to uncover them.

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ARKINSTALL, CHRISTINE